View Full Version : Small, Low-Signature, $5,000 Guided Missile Tested

09-26-2009, 12:22 PM
China Lake’s Spike(not the Israeli spike) missile has an attraction for everyone, even the target.

It has no visual launch signature, no aural sonic boom, it’s too small to be seen, it’s light enough to carry several in a rucksack, it’s guidance system is off the shelf and it’s cheaper to throw away that to repair.

It should be pointed out that the $5,000 Spike missile has a stunning set of operations advantages – all associated with survival – for those who fire it. There is no position-revealing backblast like that from a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) or a Stinger surface-to-air missile. It leaves the launcher at about 100 mph instead of Mach 1.9 so there is no big bang or blast. Muzzle velocity is not an issue because it has a guidance system. When a target appears unexpectedly, the operator turns the weapon on, points it at the target and in one second it is ready to fire. Or clusters of the 5.5-lb. weapons could be carried in pods on a UAV.

“At short range, Spike is essentially an inertially stabilized RPG,” says Steve Felix, Spike missile project manager for the Weapon Division’s weapons and energetics dept. “Or you can have an explosively formed projectile and punch into a truck-sized target like an armored personnel carrier at 200 meters. If I get surprised, and the target is more than 30 ft. away, I can pull the weapon up and shoot it like a shotgun. It’s always a weapon and I never have deadweight in my hands.”

The missile has no gimbal of any kind. It is basically a camcorder bolted to the front of a rocket motor. The motor has a 1.5-sec. burn to about Mach .85 so that it glides in on the targets up to a range of 3.2 km. without any noise so that it arrives at about 600 mph as a surprise.

The Weapon Division’s Spike missile project has produced a 2.25-in.-dia. guided weapon that early in the year chalked up 7 out of 9 successful test shots including a waterline hit on a speeding small boat that even without explosives punched a hole through the target. An unclassified number is that the missile can hit an object at 60 mph cross velocity and much faster if it is coming directly toward or away from the gunner. That was the project’s first goal. The second is to meet a target production price of $5,000-6,000 per missile.

Spike is made in modules – seeker/sensor, guidance system electronics, batteries, inertial measurement units and servo – any of which can be quickly replaced and made compatible by reprogramming an interface chip. The motor is fired with a laser; no wires go into it so there’s no chance of getting motor ignition from static, and the laser and fiber are off-the-shelf telephone components.

“We want a single missile in a canister so that you can pop three or four into the backpack of a soldier or onto a UAV launcher,” Felix says.

But, at the same time, “The modular structure allows you to experiment with non-kinetic weaponry, for example,” Janiec says.

China Lake researchers wouldn’t say more, but high power microwave and other radio-frequency payloads are being developed for the Miniature Air Launched Decoy – Jamming as used in the standoff electronic attack mission and electronics continue to get smaller.

Each missile is to be capable of making a single shot kill of maneuvering targets at ranges out to two miles. The warhead weighs about a pound and is the size of a man’s fist. During tests, when it exploded inside a step-van, for example, it punches holes in the floor, blows out the doors and windows and yanks the van’s body apart. But it also limits collateral damage.

Another article


09-26-2009, 12:52 PM
Interesting. Something like this could be useful on the new Fire Scout unmanned helicopters.